New Chef Has Worked at Some of the World’s Most Famous Buffets
TEMECULA, Calif. – (Oct. 30, 2013) – International cuisine comes as second nature to Chef Frank Ortiz, which is why he makes such a good fit for the top chef position at the globally inspired Pechanga Buffet. Chef Ortiz was recently brought to run the popular buffet’s massive daily culinary undertakings from one of the most renowned buffets in Las Vegas. With more than 30 years of experience in kitchens around the world, he says he is happy to work at a resort where one’s creativity and talent can shine through his creations.
“I see cooking as an art form, an expression,” says Chef Oritz. “I find it so satisfying to be a professional at what I do and it’s awesome to see someone happy from something you make. It’s almost not fair to be paid to do what I love so much.”
In the world of big portions and all-you-can-eat, the humble chef is also doing something novel. He has introduced fresh ingredient, flavor-packed small plates, inspired by his Spanish heritage, to the buffet. He tells time-honored patrons who appreciate the opportunity to eat as much as they want not to worry. All of the favorite international items still grace the inviting Pechanga Buffet. With four to five appetizer-size options each day, the small plates selection became a recent and quickly adopted addition to the restaurant’s entire spread.
Since coming on board, Chef Ortiz has spent the first part of each and every day, from about 11:00a.m. to 1:00p.m., walking the Pechanga Buffet’s 454-capacity seating area talking to guests. He finds out their home towns, what their favorite buffet dishes are and what they may like to nosh on next time they visit. In subsequent stops to the buffet, guests may see the Pechanga Buffet offerings changed based on their input and on the chef’s international upbringing.
With his father from Spain and his mother from Germany, Chef Ortiz lived in several European countries – Spain, France, Italy – as a child. His introduction to cooking began at the age of eight when he began helping at his stepdad’s restaurant. He recalls making and selling sandwiches and gelato to tourists at the Eiffel Tower with his brother as a young boy. His family later moved to New York and during his teens, Ortiz decided he would go into the restaurant and hospitality business as a career. He spent nearly 20 years deciding on which U.S. coast he wanted to live while continuing to work his way of the gastronomic ladder with positions with major hoteliers. Eventually, the Las Vegas culinary scene beckoned and he worked for four years at the buffets of two iconic properties.
“Working as the chef of a buffet is easier and harder than a menu-based restaurant,” explains Ortiz. “Since I am also in charge of the production kitchen that prepares the food items for guests at the buffet, there are no surprises about cuts of meat, the produce available that day or a host of other possibilities when it comes time cooking those things.” Ortiz says he is excited about the Pechanga Buffet’s specialty items on weekends, a Friday seafood buffet and a Saturday Prime Rib buffet. The motorcycle-riding chef says he loves making Spanish-style tapas and coastal Mediterranean fare and says chefs have to be daring and try new things with food. “Nobody’s going to talk about you if you don’t.”
Located inside the largest resort/casino in the western United States, the Pechanga Buffet is open Monday through Thursday for lunch and dinner from 11:00a.m. to 10:00p.m., Friday for lunch and dinner from 11:00a.m. to 11:00p.m. and Saturday for brunch and dinner from 9:00a.m. to 10:00p.m. and Sunday for brunch and dinner from 9:00a.m. to 10:00p.m. Children ages three to 11 are half price and Pechanga Club members receive discounts. For more information, visit www.Pechanga.com/dining.